Publishing in Scotland 1968-2018: From Cultural Heritage to Digital Engagement

University of Stirling

FULLY Funded PhD Studentship


The University of Stirling is offering a funded PhD Studentship in collaboration with Publishing Scotland and HarperCollins. The studentship provides costs of Home/EU fees and student maintenance (at AHRC/UKRI rates) for 3 years of PhD study. (International students are welcome to apply, but will be liable for the difference between Home and International fees.) The successful candidate will be expected to commence study on 1October 2018.

The PhD studentship will be located in the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication (SCIPC; in the Division of Literature and Languages, within the Faculty of Arts & Humanities. SCIPC was established in 1982, and has since developed a global reputation for its postgraduate degrees in publishing, its research activities, and its industry links. Focusing on book, magazine, journal, and digital publishing, the Centre trains the publishers of the future; provides opportunities for those currently working in the industry to reflect on their professional practice; and through its research, critically analyses the past, present, and future of the publishing.

The University of Stirling and Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Founded by Royal Charter in 1967, the University of Stirling was the first genuinely new university in Scotland for over 400 years. It has a pioneering spirit and a passion for innovation and excellence. The University aims to be at the forefront of research and learning that helps to improve lives. Working with academic, commercial, public, private, and voluntary sector partners, Stirling is one of the UK’s leading research universities in the fields of health and wellbeing, the environment and people, culture and society, enterprise and the economy, and sport.

Postgraduate research students are integral to our academic community, generating new knowledge and ideas to meet the needs of a global society. PhD students at Stirling work with leading academics who provide advice, guidance, direction, and support, ensuring students fulfil their potential. The postgraduate student experience is often deeply embedded in Faculties and academic Divisions, however students also benefit from being part of Stirling Graduate School, which provides additional student training and resources.

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities is one of the largest in the University. Our subject areas are renowned for international and world leading research. The Faculty encompasses four multidisciplinary divisions: Communications, Media and Culture; History and Politics; Literature and Languages; and the Stirling Law School and Philosophy.

Publishing Scotland

Publishing Scotland is the members’ association for publishers in Scotland, and as a Creative Scotland Regular Funded Organisation (RFO) plays a central role in advocacy, support, and networking for the nation’s publishing industry. Publishing Scotland’s role in 21st century Scottish publishing sees it emphasising its international and digital role (through attendance at global rights fairs including Frankfurt and Bologna); and its facilitation of publishers to reach new markets, trade globally, and put into action digital projects through its Go See and Go Digital Funds. SCIPC is a Network Member of Publishing Scotland.


HarperCollins is the second largest consumer book publisher in the world, with operations in more than 18 countries. It has historical roots and contemporary business based in Scotland. As a global conglomerate, HarperCollins operates in more than seventeen languages across the world. Its offices in Scotland focus on education and learning, children’s non-fiction and adult reference, dictionaries, cartography, and supply and distribution.

The Studentship

The past five decades have seen a rejuvenation of the Scottish publishing, alongside notable critical and commercial success for some of its authors on a global platform. At the same time, there remain significant challenges: long-established companies have closed or had operations moved to England, and the majority of bestselling Scottish authors are published via London. In the 21st century, publishing in Scotland is subject to the challenges and opportunities presented to publishers around the globe by digital technologies. The doctoral project will analyse concepts of publishing and nationhood in terms of content development and niche strategies, as well as the platforms and possibilities for global export and international dissemination.

The project will therefore focus on the following research questions:

  • How has the Scottish publishing industry developed in the past five decades and what have been its opportunities and challenges? What is the relationship between these opportunities and challenges and the factors of internationalisation and conglomeration?
  • How are digital technologies, practices, and workflows affecting the publishing industry in the 21st century, and shaping its futures?
  • How has the development of the publishing industry in the period related to ideas of publishing in national and transnational contexts?

Publishing will be analysed within the broader creative economy by: 1) focusing on questions of content creation and publishing for niches in a national context; 2) exploring the potential for publishing market development for Scotland in the future; and 3) expanding, enhancing, and showcasing the existing Publishing Scotland and HarperCollins archives through semi-structured interviews of Publishing Scotland members’ reflections on business, as well as born-digital archives, and working with the HarperCollins archivist in Glasgow. The intention is to generate a history of Scottish publishing which goes substantially beyond the scholarship in the Edinburgh History of the Book in Scotland Volume 4 (2007) by incorporating a business-oriented perspective, with pathways to new industry applications in understanding how ideas of nation, identity, and culture inter-relate with those of economics and commerce in the transition to a digital environment.

The methodology will utilise a variety of secondary and primary research methods, which will be developed in partnership between the doctoral researcher, the academic supervisors, and the partner supervisors. The doctoral researcher will conduct a series of oral histories/interviews with past and current publishers, Publishing Scotland staff, and others involved in the book trade. Through a placement component at Publishing Scotland in Year 1, the doctoral researcher’s understanding will also be enabled through participant observation of the organisation central to the development of Scottish publishing. The placement component at HarperCollins in Year 2 will enable the student to gain an industrial perspective, and also to work with HarperCollins’ archives in Glasgow to explore an aspect of its recent history during the 200th anniversary of Collins in 2019.

The doctoral researcher will prepare and produce a number of outputs for academic and non-academic audiences. In addition to the thesis, conference papers, a journal article, a consultancy report, and impact-oriented articles, this will include a digital humanities online exhibition and curatorial website detailing the project, with associated social media to engage multiple audiences (industry professionals; entrants to the industry; book historians and publishing studies researchers; publishing students; international audiences). Outcomes and lasting benefits will be in the production of an analytical history of late 20th/early 21st century Scottish publishing; a understanding of publishing in national, global, and digital contexts; significant creative economy knowledge exchange between the doctoral researcher, academic supervisors, and partner organisations; and concerted impact with a range of national, UK, and international audiences.

Supervision, resources, training, and location

The PhD student will be jointly supervised by Professor Claire Squires (Professor of Publishing Studies) and Dr Gill Tasker (Lecturer in Digital Creative Economy and Publishing), both in SCIPC, and Marion Sinclair (Publishing Scotland) and Sheena Barclay (HarperCollins). The student will be based at the University of Stirling, with placement elements at Publishing Scotland (Edinburgh) and HarperCollins (Glasgow). The doctoral researcher will join a lively community of PhD students in SCIPC and more broadly in the Division of Literature & Languages, and participate in the research skills training provided by the University. The student will also have access to training activities provided by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities. Networking will be encouraged by introductions to key sector stakeholders, such as the Publishing Scotland conference and the London Book Fair. The student will be able to access up to £750 p/annum for the costs of fieldwork, travel, and equipment.

Who can apply

  • Applicants should have a good undergraduate degree (2:1 or 1st or comparable) and the equivalent of a Distinction or Merit in a Master’s degree (or one near completion).
  • Applicants who do not have a master’s qualification, but who have significant relevant professional experience will also be considered.
  • Relevant subjects include publishing studies, literature, creative writing, or associated subjects.
  • Experience of study/research in the following areas is particularly welcome: publishing; Scottish literature.
  • This studentship provides Home/EU fees and student maintenance (at AHRC/UKRI rates). International students are welcome to apply, but will be liable for the difference between Home and International fees.

The application – applicants should submit:

  • A CV (max. 4 pages).
  • An example of recent academic writing (e.g. MSc/MLitt essay or dissertation), totalling no more than 3,000 words.
  • A short statement (500 words max.): i) explaining your particular interest in the research project and ii) the set of skills – knowledge and experience – that you would bring to it. Why is this the right research project for you and why are you the right researcher to ensure it is delivered successfully?
  • Applicants without a Master’s qualification should include an additional statement (1 page max.) outlining the relevant professional skills, experience, and knowledge they have gained beyond undergraduate degree level, that could be considered equivalent to Master’s study.
  • Scanned copies of degree certificate(s) and transcripts of marks. (NB if your Masters degree is not yet awarded please submit a transcript of marks to date.)
  • Two academic references on headed paper (to be submitted direct to

Applications should be submitted via email to by Monday 4 June 2018 (12pm BST). References should be submitted to this email by the same deadline. Interviews for short-listed candidates will be held on Friday 15 June 2018 at Publishing Scotland’s offices in Edinburgh (or by Skype where necessary).

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact Professor Claire Squires ( for informal enquiries.